Children with chronic illnesses or intellectual disabilities, and their families, now have a new place to turn to for support.
An organization called imadi, which supports families in Maryland and Washington, D.C., officially launched on Nov. 30, Giving Tuesday.
“imadi is the result of a quantifiable need in the community, and I am grateful for the incredible support of so many lay leaders and professionals,” said Tzvi Haber, executive director and founder of imadi, in an email. “It was my idea, but I am blessed to be a part of it.”
Haber lives in and is from Pikesville, where he grew up attending Talmudical Academy and Congregation Shomrei Emunah. He previously served as director of the mid-Atlantic chapter of Chai Lifeline, an organization that supports children with illnesses and their families. He departed Chai Lifeline in June.
Over the last several months leading up to imadi’s launch, Haber and his team met with families in the different Jewish communities of Maryland and Washington, D.C., and found a number of gaps in the services provided to them. In response, Haber and his team developed a plan for a new organization designed to “transform the landscape for pediatric illness,” he said.
“I believe that the support model we have created is truly unprecedented, and I am excited at the idea of delivering it to families and communities that need it,” Haber said.
Ahuva Orlofsky, chair of imadi’s board of directors, noted some of the ways the organization provides support.
“Through concierge case management, patient advocacy and therapeutic programming, imadi provides a customized client experience to families facing these complex pediatric health diagnosis,” said Orlofsky, a resident of Silver Spring and member of Kemp Mill Synagogue .
When asked what makes imadi different, Haber noted imadi’s belief in giving its volunteers a greater sense of empowerment.
“We believe in empowering student volunteers to make a difference,” Haber said. “The organization is positioned at the intersection of a transformative volunteer experience and a critical community service, and it is our portfolio of unique leadership and engagement opportunities for our volunteers that result in such life-changing and innovative social-emotional programming for families facing the devastating impacts of a complex pediatric health diagnosis.”
Additionally, Haber noted imadi’s efforts to create an “inclusive environment for a neurodiverse population.”
Regarding the origins of his organization’s name, Haber explained that imadi is Hebrew for “with me,” and comes from Psalm 23:
“‘[T]hough I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil because you are … with me.’ (Psalm 23),” Haber quoted.
Presently, imadi has three professional staff members, Haber said. Within a week of the launch of imadi’s website, more than 100 people had applied to be volunteers. Haber hopes to continue growing in the coming months.
imadi is currently focused on training volunteers and onboarding prospective clients, Haber said. Once this is completed, the organization plans to launch their formal programming.
Funding for imadi currently comes from a series of private donors, foundations and community fundraising initiatives, Haber said.
To children suffering from illness, and to the parents of those children, Haber had a simple message.
“Just three words: by your side,” Haber said. “The team at imadi is standing by your side and ready to help.”